Gov. Gary Herbert and Republican attorney general nominee John Swallow have both amassed big piles of money as they head into the home stretch of this year’s campaign. But other candidates for top state government offices are a bit cash poor with two months remaining before the Nov. 6 elections.
Financial forms filed Friday show Herbert now has nearly $520,000 in the bank, or five times more than the just over $94,000 banked by his Democratic challenger, Peter Cooke.
Swallow has just over $447,000 in cash on hand — nearly 50 times as much as the $9,136 of Democrat Dee Smith.
Swallow was aided by two gigantic donations this reporting period since June 15, one for $250,000 from the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee and another for $120,000 from Utah’s Prosperity Foundation — a PAC of incumbent Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
The governor holds his big money lead even before staging his biggest fundraiser of the year. His annual gala on Sept. 21 will feature New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, fresh from giving the keynote address at the Republican National Convention.
“He’s a rock star in the party, so we expect that it will be a hot ticket,” said Marty Carpenter, campaign spokesman for Herbert.
Carpenter said that with the money, “the governor is committed to running a serious campaign.” He said “a fairly large presence” of highway billboards is going up this weekend, and radio and TV ads are scheduled to begin in a few weeks. He said social media ads are also being used.
Carpenter said Herbert’s strong fundraising shows that Utahns “trust his leadership, that they approve of his performance, and they expect him to be the governor for the next four years.”
Herbert received several large donations in the reporting period since June 15. The included four donations of $25,000 each — from Dewey Reagan of Reagan Outdoor Advertising; Greg Miller and Steve Starks of the Utah Jazz-owning Larry H. Miller Group; Fred Lampropoulos, owner of Merit Medical; and Alan Hall of the Island Park Companies.
During the election cycle so far, Herbert’s campaign and political action committee have raised $2.82 million and spent $1.17 million. Democrat Cooke has raised $266,114, and spent $171,952. A quarter of his donations have come from labor unions.
Does Cooke have enough to run a strong campaign? “Not now, but we will,” said Mary Bishop, his campaign manager.
She said the campaign is aggressively raising money, and has pledges in line that should give him plenty to fund their plans. For now, Bishop said inexpensive social media ads “are becoming increasingly important,” but the campaign hopes to move to cable TV and broadcast ads.
In the attorney general race, Swallow raised $1.23 million this year and spent nearly $787,000. He could not be reached for comment Friday about the two monster donations he received in the reporting period. The $250,000 donation by the Republican State Leadership Committee and the $120,000 from the Shurtleff PAC amount to 30 percent of all he has raised.
Meanwhile, Democrat Smith has raised $47,255 in the year and spent $37,718.
Smith’s campaign manager, Justin Daniels, said, “Definitely, fundraising could be better. But all in all, we like our prospects.” Daniels said they expect to have enough for some TV advertising, more Internet advertising and grassroots field work.
In the auditor’s race, Democrat Mark Sage had $1,742 in cash on hand compared to $776 for Republican John Dougall. However, Dougall has already spent $64,325 so far in a tough primary where he defeated 17-year incumbent Auston Johnson — so Dougall already has in place such things as lawn signs. Dougall could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Sage acknowledged that his $1,742 in cash won’t allow much of a campaign. But he said, “We will look at what is fiscally responsible and work within our means, and hopefully show to voters that I mean business when I say I will protect taxpayer dollars.”
In the state treasurer’s race, incumbent Republican Richard Ellis has $1,531 in cash on hand, compared to just $329 for Democrat Christopher Stout. Ellis has raised $6,780 this year, and spent $5,264. Stout raised only $1,204, and spent $876.
Cash on hand
Governor • Gov. Gary Herbert, $519,623; Democrat Peter Cooke, $94,162
Attorney General • Republican John Swallow, $447,316; Democrat Dee Smith, $9,136
Auditor • Republican John Dougall, $776; Democrat Mark Sage, $1,742
Treasurer • Republican Richard Ellis, $1,532; Democrat Christopher Stout, $329